Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Frugal Tipple: Blackberry Wine

When Depression looms, the prudent householder cuts back on frivolities. This does not, however, mean going without life's little necessities. You know, like booze. Depression Era Recipes gives several recipes for frugal tipples, including this one that seems a bit oddly placed, coming the day after Michaelmas.
Blackberry Wine

1 gal. black berries
1 qt. boiling water
2 lbs. sugar

Bruise berries, add boiling water. Let stand 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain off the liquor and put into a cask. Add sugar; cork tight and let stand till next October, when it will be ready for use. It may be bottled.
So, assuming you picked your berries before the Devil spit on them yesterday, this is a great way to use 'em up!

In my family, berries tend to end up more than a little boozy on a regular basis. We don't have the patience to wait a full year for the results, though. Instead, we put clean berries in sterile jars, and cover them with vodka or some other strong spirit, and let 'em marinate for several weeks. Strain and add simple syrup to taste. Mmmmm.

Favorite uses for blackberry wine: mixing with less than stellar merlot. Yes, really. Also great mixed with mead.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Folksy Wisdom; Pie Crust

Depression Era Recipes doesn't limit itself to recipes. No, it also faithfully reprints advertisements and folksy wisdom pieces of the day, including this one that frankly reminds me of my kooky grandma.
Her Ten Commandments

These are the new commandments ten
Which wives now make for married men

I. Remember that I am thy wife,
Whom thou must cherish all thy life.
II. Thou shalt not stay out late at night
When lodges, friends or clubs invite.
III. Thou shalt not smoke indoor or out,
Or chew tobacco round about.
IV. Thou shalt with praise receive my pies,
Nor pastry made by me despise.
V. My mother thou shalt strive to please,
And let her live with us in ease.
VI. Remember 'tis thy duty clear
To dress me well throughout the year.
VII. Thou shalt not be a drinking man,
But live on prohibition plan.
VIII. Thou shalt in manner mild and meek
Give me thy wages every week.
IX. Thou shalt not flirt, but must allow
Thy wife such freedom anyhow.
X. Thou shalt get up when baby cries,
And try the child to tranquilize.

These my commands from day to day
Implicitly thou shalt obey.

These Commandments are from Grandma Signe's recipe book
...so much one could say about that. I'm going to focus on Commandment IV. If anyone ever receives pie from me with anything other than praise? Badness will occur! Harsh thoughts and feelings! No more pie for that person ever!!! And who would ever despise my pastry?

But, let's face it: lots of people get freaked out at the thought of making a pie from scratch. Most of the hangups come from the crust making. Lucky for us, Depression Era Recipes has several foolproof pie crust options for us all. Let's take the first one, conveniently on the same page as Her Ten Commandments.
Pie Crust

4 T. boiling water
4 T. lard
1 1/4 cup flour
1 t. baking powder
Pinch of salt

Melt lard in hot water. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and stir this into the liquid. Place in the ice box until cold. Roll out thin and line tin.
I know, I know. Lard. There, I said it. Use lard. I said it again. (Heck, turn the page, and Depression Era Recipes will tell you how to render your own...)

What I like about this recipe (besides the unapologetic use of lard) is the method. Melting the fat, instead of trying to keep it cold! No cutting the cold fat into the flour, and trying to figure out when the globs are pea-sized! No food processor! No vinegar! No admonitions to chill your rolling pin, chill your board, chill your spoons, chill your forks, chill your everything. It seems so darned easy!

I have no clue how well it works. I'm intrigued.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sketchy Salads of Yore: Harlequin Salad

Not all sketchy salads of yore involve gelatin and molds. Exhibit A: This entry from Depression Era Recipes:
Harlequin Salad

1 c. red cabbage
1 c. reg. cabbage
1 c. peas
1/2 c. beets
1 onion, diced
1/2 c. carrot, diced
Salt & pepper
French dressing

Shave cabbage thin. Cook peas, beets and carrots till tender; drain and chill. Mix all vegetables, or arrange them in layers or heaps. The effect is better if they are mixed and they are also easier to season and to arrange. Pour on French dressing an hour before serving, keep cold. Pass more French dressing at the table.
It's Best Guess Translation Time! "Reg. cabbage" has got to be green cabbage, so that we can get a harlequin effect between red and green vegetables. "French dressing," as in Casserole Cookery, means a vinaigrette. I'd also make sure that you cook your veg separately; otherwise, your carrots and peas are going to be beet red, quite literally.

I don't think the "heaps" approach sounds very appealing, but layers might work. I suspect that tossing the salad would make the greens turn red, what with the cabbage and the beets all mingled in.

This is another one of those recipes where every single ingredient that goes into it sounds good, but the overall effect just sounds a little hinky.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Depression Era Recipes, by Patricia R. Wagner: Dumplings

Some books never seem to go out of print. Depression Era Recipes, by Patricia R. Wagner, was first printed in 1989, and was on its eighteenth printing by 2000. Chefly Husband picked up a copy for me at a book sale recently, because he's nearly as much of a cookbook freak as I am. Nearly. And, with all the turmoil in the financial sector these days, and frantic rhetoric, I thought a focus on the Depression suitable for this week. I like this bit from the acknowledgements:
The Depression wasn't all soup lines and poverty. The information related herein is intended to show how people coped with the Depression, their diversions and what life was all about, what they had and how they spent their leisure time. Not all of these recipes have been personally tested by the author. But if they were good enough for Gramma Signe, Aunt Minnie and Mom, they're good enough for us.
So, some of these recipes might just not work. Or they might be a little too 1930s for today's tastes. That's part of the adventure!

On an administrative note, I'm tagging these all as 1930s recipes, even though the book was printed 50 years later. It makes sense to me.

The gingerbread recipe made me miss home, and especially miss a lovely lady who was a family friend for years before she died. She took me to a gingerbread restaurant for my first slabs of cake-like gingerbread, and she also took me to experience my first-ever chicken and dumplings.

2 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 1/2 c. chicken broth, boiling
1/2 c. flour
1-2 qts. chicken broth

Mix together well to make a soft dough. Put the 1/2 c. flour on a bread broad; put dough on top. Let cool enough to handle. Then roll like pie crust. Cut in 1" x 2" strips. Let these dry 15 minutes. Drop into boiling chicken broth and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Let's fix some of the problems with this recipe. First off, the bread "broad" is clearly supposed to be a bread board. Next, if you try to mix everything together in the first step, you're going to be in a world of hurt. So, mix together, please, the first three ingredients. Then, roll out, using the 1/2 c. remaining flour to coat board, rolling pin, etc., to make easy to handle. Roll and cut as above. Finally, heat the 1 - 2 quarts broth to a boil, and add the dumplings.

So, why dumplings? Well, if you're trying to make a bit of meat stretch a long way, this is a great way to get the flavor of chicken into a less-expensive vehicle. If, say, you needed to keep a laboring man strong for work, he could eat the actual chicken, while the wife and kids had dumplings.

There's no leavening used in these bad boys, which I could go on and on discussing various religious reasons why this might make the recipe ideal for whatever, but here's why I dig the leavening-less nature of the recipe: I never end up with good leavening in the house. If I need soda or powder or yeast, I have to go out to shop. Everything needed for these dumplings, I have in my pantry right now, even though I haven't done maintenance shopping in a few weeks.

If anyone's interested in a Depression-era recipe for chicken broth, let me know; the book has several, most involving carcasses, skin, giblets, and the like. Frugality, folks. It's what's for dinner this week.

The Devil You Say!: 'Hell' Balls

In the quasi-excitement of a work deadline followed by a missing cab topped by a presidential candidates' debate, I completely missed posting the last of this week's recipes from Favourite Kentish Recipes! Apologies. The Devil made me do it.
'Hell' Balls

4 oz. cooked game
4 oz. cooked ham or lean, cooked bacon rashers
2 oz. chutney
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 or 3 stoned olives, chopped
1 tablespoon game gravy
1 large egg, beaten
2 oz. (approximately) fresh white breadcrumbs

Mince the game and the ham or bacon and mix thoroughly with the chutney, cayenne pepper, olives, gravy and 1 dessertspoon of the egg. Form the mixture into 12 balls and roll them first in the remaining beaten egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Fry in shallow oil until golden brown. Serve with a side salad. Serves 2.

"Serve with a side salad." Hee! I'm sure a saucer of iceberg with a wedge of hot house tomato and a slathering of salad cream will be just the thing with my helping of six (six!) Hell Balls.

I'm sorry; 'Hell' Balls. Of course, the spicing and dicing and mixing makes it pretty clear this is hellish along the lines of a deviled egg being devilish. Still, it sounds like a good way to use up sundry leftovers in the fridge. And it's kind of fun to read a recipe that has olives and gravy all mixed up with chutney and bacon. It is everything one hopes and fears for in a British cookbook.

It also would taste damned good, I'd wager.

Credit for selecting this recipe goes to Chefly Husband, who also likes a good/bad recipe title.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Need Eggs: Gingerbread

After yesterdays' shocking lack-of-eggs post, I have to say, I need some eggs in this house. I need eggs, and baked goods made from same. Take, for example, this recipe from Favourite Kentish Recipes:

2 large eggs
10 oz. black treacle or a mixture of golden syrup and treacle
3 oz. brown sugar
3 oz. margarine
8 oz. self-raising flour
1-1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
Grated rind of 1 lemon

Set oven to 325°F or Mark 3. Heat the margarine in a pan until just melted but not too hot. Whisk the eggs until they are very frothy. Keep whisking whilst gradually adding first the treacle, then the sugar and lastly the margarine. Fold in the sifted flour, together with the spices and the lemon ride. Grease thoroughly a tin approximately 9 inches x 7 inches x 2 inches and line the base of the tin with baking parchment. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
2 large eggs. That's all I need, and the rest will surely spring together...

I love the fact that this recipe uses the word "whilst." It seems to fit in with the treacle and the golden syrup and the hesitancy to say "just use the full 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger, fool, it's gingerbread!"

I've been craving gingerbread lately (though specifically a gingerbread made with Guinness); this weekend's going to be a rainy, stay-at-home sort of affair, so I may well set myself to baking. I wish I could remember the name of the place in Oregon where I first had gingerbread served as cake and not as cookie... it's so much better as a soft and spicy cake...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pantry Baking: Vinegar Cake

Sometimes, I get hit with a need to bake, but find my fridge is letting me down. How's a person to make a cake if the eggs have gone...or gone off? Favourite Kentish Recipes offers this option:
Vinegar Cake

12 oz. self-raising flour
4 oz. butter or dripping
8 oz. mixed fruit
2 oz. candied peel, cut fine
8 oz. demerara sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 pint milk

Set oven to 350°F or Mark 4. Rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients except the bicarbonate of soda. When well blended add the bicarbonate of soda mixed with the milk and vinegar. Put into a greased and lined 8 1/2 inch cake tin and bake for approximately 1 3/4 - 2 hours.

A cake suitable for those who do not eat eggs.

Also suitable for those who can not keep proper groceries in their fridges. Dribs and drabs of things, thrown together with the remnants of a junior high science fair volcano, somehow creating a cake?

Why not?

I will let my prejudices show. I am perfectly fine using suet in mincemeat or a pudding, but the idea of using drippings as my fat in a cake makes me wince. Thankfully, there's never a time I don't have at least one stick of butter in the freezer, so I don't think I'll ever be so hard up for cake that I whip out the drippings jar.

Shameful confession: I do not keep a drippings jar. My family taught me to keep my drippings, they did, but I've fallen off that traditional wagon. It's a shame, too, as meat drippings are the best for cooking up eggs. Of course, I've already admitted to not keeping a ready supply of eggs in the house, so perhaps this cake has just got my brain fizzing like bicarb and vinegar.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More... Advanced... Brit Food: Pork and Apple Pudding

Pies and wassail and all are well and good, but when most non-Brits think of British food, they think of scary, unidentifiable blobs of meat and flour and fat from organ meat. Luckily, Favourite Kentish Recipes doesn't disappoint in this category.
Pork and Apple Pudding

1 lb. self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
8 oz. shredded suet
Water to mix
1 1/2 lb. raw pork, cut into small pieces
Chopped sage to taste
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
Salt and pepper

Sieve the flour and the salt into a bowl and add the suet. Mix to a soft dough with some water. Use threequarters of the pastry to line a greased 2 1/2 pint pudding basin. Put layers of the meat and apple alternately in the lined basin and season well with the sage, salt, and pepper. Close the pudding with a lid, using the remaining pastry. Fold the edges of the lining back over the edge of the lid; this will help to seal it. Cover with greased paper and a cloth or foil. Steam for 4 hours. Serves 5 to 6.

It's very difficult to type "threequarters." My fingers want to put in a space or a hyphen or SOMETHING.

So, how do you steam a pudding, especially if this is a new-to-you proposition? Let's turn to The New Joy Of Cooking:
If you do not have a pudding basin---a deep bowl of heatproof ceramic---you may use any heatproof bowl with equally good results. The steep 4- to 5-quart metal bowls that come with heavy-duty mixers are good for particularly handsome larger puddings. Grease these and all other metal bowls especially well, as puddings are more prone to sticking to metal than to glass or ceramic. ... To steam a pudding, find a pot large enough to hold the pudding basin or bowl comfortably. If you are steaming several small plum puddings, a turkey roaster, set over two burners, is convenient. (Puddings must be steamed in, not over boiling water, which rules out a double boiler.) To insulate the bottom of the pudding, set a trivet, rack, or folded dish towel in the bottom of your pot. Place the pudding in the pot, then pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway or to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pudding bowl. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to a brisk simmer. Cover the pot tightly and steam the pudding until done, checking the pot every 30 minutes or so and replenishing with boiling water as needed. When removing the cooked pudding from the pot, protect your hands with oven mitts or gloves.

So, we can fake a steamer, and steam away. The only other problem that might arise: suet. I've had the hardest time getting suet in the past; even going to a specialty butcher has met limited success. Keep trying. Call around. Suet is wonderful for these low, slow heat applications. It melts so beautifully, so slowly, so perfectly... :swoon:

Don't get me started on mincemeat. Or, hey, it's nearly October... start me on mincemeat! If I want it to be ready for Christmas, I should put some up soon...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Here We Come: Wassail Bowl

Yesterday's comments on mulled wine and a-seasonal food segues nicely into this not-quite-seasonal recipe from Favourite Kentish Recipes:
Wassail Bowl

1 quart ale
1/2 bottle sherry
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 slices toast
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
2 medium sized baked apples, chopped
Sugar to taste
1 orange

Mix all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat the mixture but do not let it boil. Allow to stand for 1 hour. Strain and re-heat. Serve either in a large bowl with slices of orange floating on the surface or in individual mugs or tumblers each with a slice of orange. If using glass tumblers make sure that the mixture is not too hot.

This Old English punch is an ideal and warming drink after Carol Singing.
Chefly Husband, looking over my shoulder, asks, "Why is there toast in it?" Well, it's wicked traditional, and if memory serves, the literal toast in the drink is what gave rise to the verbing (verbification?) of "toast."

I've never had a proper old fashioned wassail, it seems. I make a mean mulled cider, and a mean mulled wine, and, great golly, stand back when I combine the two, but a wassail? I need to try this. There's nothing in it I don't love, after all!

If you don't have two baked apples to spare, just take two unbaked apples, chop them up, and microwave for 5 minutes. Instant "baked" apples. (For just one apple, 3 minutes will do.)

...how long must I wait to try this, to avoid seeming unseemly?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Autumnal Equinox Means Pie Time; Kentish Apple and Cheese Pie

It's the Autumnal Equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere, and to me, that means it's time for soups, stews, braises, and all things related to apples and baking. It's pie time, boys and girls. I've a pot of split pea soup simmering on the stove for supper, and a bunch of apples waiting to be transformed into something yummy. Maybe they'll go into a pie, like this one from Favourite Kentish Recipes:
Kentish Apple and Cheese Pie

6 oz. puff or shortcrust pastry
1 1/2 lbs. cooking apples, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced
3-4 oz. granulated sugar
3-4 cloves
Small pinch of grated nutmeg
1/2 tea cup of water
4 oz. hard cheese, sliced

Set oven to 425°F or Mark 7. Using half the apples, put a layer into a greased 8 inch (approx.) pie dish. Sprinkle half the sugar over the apples. Lay the remaining apples on top and push the cloves into some of the apple slices. Add the remaining sugar, the nutmeg and the water and make a final layer with the cheese. Roll out the pastry and use it to cover the dish. Brush with a little milk and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. Serves 4-6.
Oh, yes. Bake that cheese right into that pie!

This pie steps neatly around the issue of how to get a non-soggy bottom crust: omit it entirely. Yes, you'll be scooping more than slicing the pie, but it's still going to taste good, and you can savor all the buttery (or lardy) goodness of your top crust with extra abandon.

I'd experiment with other liquids to pour in. Apple juice, or cider (hard or not). Pear nectar. Crisp white wine. Something that brings some flavor to the party. I'm also tempted to use ground cloves, so no one has to navigate around a whole clove in their slice/scoop of pie.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Favourite Kentish Recipes; Appledore Chicken Pie

I've loved cookbooks since I was a wee thing, but I didn't start collecting them until I went to the U.K. with my mother, aunt, and sister for an extended holiday. I fell in love with a series of small cookbook booklets by J. Salmon Ltd. press, each representing a different region of Great Britain (no Northern Ireland, alas). This week, we'll look at the first one of these booklets, Favourite Kentish Recipes. Don't know where Kent is? It's in the bottom right-hand corner of England. The booklet was compiled by Pat Smith, with illustrations (very pretty ones, at that) by A. R. Quinton. There's no copyright date inside, but I bought the booklets in 1998, so I'll assume a 1990s copyright (for tagging purposes).
Appledore Chicken Pie

1 chicken, or joints, to give 1 1/2 lbs. of raw chicken meat
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
2 or 3 rashers of bacon, de-rinded and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried herbs
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 oz. flour
8 oz. shortcrust pastry

Set oven to 375°F or Mark 5. Remove the chicken meat from the bones. Place the bones in a pan, cover with water, put on a lid and simmer for 2-3 hours to produce some stock. Roll the meat in seasoned flour and put a layer in a pie dish. Cover with the chopped bacon and egg slices. Finish with the remaining chicken. Sprinkle the herbs over the meat. Cover with a pastry lid, making a hole in the centre and bake for 1 hour. Reduce the temperature to 350°F or Mark 4 and cook for a further 1 hour. If the pastry appears to be browning too rapidly, protect with a piece of greaseproof paper. Remove from the oven and, through the hole in the pastry, top up with some of the hot stock from the bones. Serves 4.
If you're newer to cooking, you might not catch that the salt and pepper were supposed to go into the flour, seasoning it. You also might not be used to the term "shortcrust pastry." It's a basic pastry/pie dough, that's basically 1 part fat to 2 parts flour, with a little water. Because we live in the golden age of the internet, there is, of course, a website to help you out: ShortCrustPastry.com. No joke. If you're not up for making your own crust (or using a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, which even Chefly Husband will use in a pinch -- it tastes just fine), you can also use puff pastry for your pie lid. Mmm. Puff pastry.

I like these booklets in part because they translate themselves, early and often. Yes, gas mark whatever is listed, but also degrees Fahrenheit. Units of measurement tend to be given in "standard" as opposed to metric, but there's a ton of charts in the back to help you adjust to what you're used to.

For the bacon, you could use standard supermarket bacon... I'd recommend getting some thicker, dryer slices from the butcher, though. Or, if resources permit, get some proper Irish or English bacon rashers. ...just thinking of good English bacon makes me hunger for a hot English breakfast. How long until I go to Northern Ireland? Only 9 more months...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Unabashed Love: Caramel-Peach Crisps

I don't think I've been fair to Good Housekeeping's Quick 'n' Easy Cook Book. Several of the recipes have led me to snarkiness and derision. Not this one, though. No, this one? This one, I love. Unabashedly.
Caramel-Peach Crisp

1/4 cup syrup from peaches
2 tablesp. seedless raisins
1 No. 2 2 1/2 can cling-peach, pear, or apricot halves, drained
2 tablesp. brown sugar
3 tablesp. melted butter or margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablesp. broken pecans
2/3 cup corn flakes
Light cream

Preheat broiler 10 min., or as manufacturer directs. In shallow baking pan, place peach syrup, raisins, then peach halves, with cut sides up. Sprinkle on 2 tablesp. brown sugar; broil till bubbling and brown-tinged. Meanwhile, to butter, add 1/4 cup brown sugar, pecans, and corn flakes. Spoon into peach hollows. Return to broiler with heat turned off for at least 15 min. Serve warm, with cream, or vanilla or peach ice cream, a-la-mode-fashion. Makes 4 servings

Skillet-Glazed Peaches: In skillet combine syrup from peaches with 1/4 cup each granulated and brown sugar, and 2 tablesp. butter or margarine; bring to boil. Add peaches; simmer 30 min., basting often. Omit raisins and nuts. Serve warm, sprinkled with corn flakes. Makes 6 to 8 servings
Oh, hell, yes. I'm not much of a broiler person, mostly because our oven growing up didn't have a separate broiler, so I've only ever done this stovetop. And, OH, is it yummy. The corn flake topping seems like a cheesy addition, but it's just so delightful with caramelized peach juice and sweet fleshy peaches! Mmmm!!!

It's also very pretty, and very easy. I highly recommend this for a first dessert for newbie cooks.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Not Technically Cooking: Apricot Sherbet

Some of the sticklers out there might say that dropping toppings on a frozen pie doesn't actually count as cooking. This recipe from Good Housekeeping's Quick 'n' Easy Cook Book should keep them merrily in their snit, as there's no application of heat to foodstuffs. It's not technically cooking, folks!
Apricot Sherbet

2 cans apricot nectar (1 1/2 cups)
2 tablsp. kirsh; or 2 teasp. almond extract

Mix together the apricot nectar and kirsch. Pour mixture into ice cube tray, and freeze, stirring occasionally, until mushy. Serve sherbet at once.

Makes 6 servings
See? No heat at all!

Please note: this won't work in plastic ice cube trays, folks. You'll need proper old fashioned aluminum trays, and you can leave out the cube dividers. Don't have metal ice trays? Use a freezer-safe, not non-stick pan that you might bake brownies in, or a loaf pan (also freezer-safe, also not Telflon-ed).

The kirsch adds flavor, but the alcohol also helps keep a nice texture for the sherbet -- alcohol freezes at a much lower temperature than the nectar alone.

What I love about this: you don't need an ice cream churn or freezer to make a frozen confection. Okay, I'll admit to owning a small Krups ice cream machine, but not having to freeze a chamber, pull out the engine, etc. certainly has its appeal.

My dad talks fondly of making pineapple sherbet out of canned pineapple and not much else when he was a kid. This reminds me of that. Dad doesn't share many happy childhood memories, so each one is very special to me. If this recipe doesn't seem quite special enough for you, you can always try Julia Child's rather more involved apricot sherbet recipe

Does anyone have any idea why Good Housekeeping chose to abbreviate tablespoon and teaspoon the way they did? I haven't seen it in other books.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Puttin' On The Ritz: Top-Hat Apple Pie

Yesterday's recipes from Good Housekeeping's Quick 'n' Easy Cook Book still have me a little rattled. Let's go for something a little less...creative...than a stovetop celery quiche or a curry with next to no curry in it. Since it's starting to feel like a proper autumn here in DC, let's turn our thoughts to apple pie... 1958 style.
Top-Hat Apple Pie

Heat 1, 2, or more frozen apple pies as label directs; or heat bakers' apple pie in 425°F. oven for 15 min. Serve warm, cut into wedges, with one of these toppings:

Sharp-Cheese Spread: Use a dab, before or after heating.

Pineapple Topping: Use a spoonful of drained canned crushed pineapple.

Sour-Cream Topping: Use just a little. Sprinkle with nutmeg, cinnamon, or allspice.

Cottage-Cheese Topping: Use a spoonful of cheese; then top with a little jelly.

Cranberry Topping: Use canned whole-cranberry sauce.

Whipped Cream: Use a generous dab; top with grated American cheese.

Marshmallow Topping: Use a little marshmallow cream; then sprinkle with cinnamon.

Coco-Nut Topping: Last 5 min. of heating, top with coconut or chopped nuts.

I can't really take a cheflier-than-thou attitude with these. I mean, I loves me some pie, no matter from whence it came, and though I think it's just as easy to make your own damn pie as to do one from the freezer, I'm still going to say "frozen pie beats no pie at all." Moreover, I can't turn up my nose at the idea of adding less-than-refined things to said pie: I love Cool Whip, for example, and will slather it on anything I can. Just ask.

That being said, I think any time they talk about American cheese or Sharp-Cheese Spread, you should replace it with Cheddar. Or Brie. Or, for the love of God, anything not processed into a gelatinous orange plastic state.

I can sort of imagine the sour cream topping, but the cottage cheese leaves me a bit cold -- the only lumpy texture I want with my apple pie is, well, apple. And I love cottage cheese! With apples! This lumpy topping objection stays with me for the pineapple and cranberry suggestions.

The marshmallow topping has promise. We never stocked marshmallow cream when I was growing up, so I'll admit to an unholy fascination with the stuff.

My favorite additions to hot apple pie, for the record: Tillamook cheddar; vanilla ice cream; whipped cream; Cool Whip; cream; ginger ice cream.

I am kind of sad that, so far, I haven't found the Ritz cracker mock apple pie recipe in any of the cookbooks...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Don't Think It Means What They Think It Means: Home-For-Lunch Quickie

The editors of Good Housekeeping's Quick 'n' Easy Cook Book seem to rather miss the point of a home-for-lunch quickie in this recipe:
Home-for-Lunch Quickie

1 can condensed cream-of-celery soup, undiluted
8 eggs
1/4 teasp. pepper
2 tablesp. butter or margarine

Empty soup into bowl; stir well. Add eggs and pepper; beat just enough to blend. In saucepan, melt butter; pour in egg mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally with fork, until set but still moist. If desired, serve with crisp bacon slices.

Makes 6 servings


At lunch time, a "quickie" had better be referring to some speedy nookie, not ... whatever the hell this is. A ... cream of celery custard? If it were baked, I could try and wrap my head around it as a souffle of some sort, but...

Why are we having a 6 serving dish at a lunchtime quickie? How many folks are coming home for this quickie? And, why are we beating eggs into undiluted celery soup and then thinking anyone will eat it?

I swear, this might just have to become a Cook The Books recipe, just to see how beyond creepy it really is. This recipe is the antithesis of hot sex during the lunch hour.

The teasing mention of bacon isn't enough, even, to make this work for me.

Bridget Jones Homage: Turkey-Olive Curry

We had an internet outage last night, so there will be two, two, two posts today from Good Housekeeping's Quick 'n' Easy Cook Book! First up, an homage to Bridget Jones's mother:
Turkey-Olive Curry

2 tablesp. butter or margarine
1/2 cup sliced onions
1 cup diced celery
2 1/2 tablesp. flour
1/2 teasp. salt
1/4 teasp. curry powder
1 chicken-bouillon cube
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pitted ripe olives
1 cup diced, cooked turkey or chicken
1 3-oz. can chow-mein noodles

In hot butter in skillet, sauté onions and celery until tender. Remove a few onion ring; set aside for garnish. To skillet, add flour, salt, curry powder, and crumbled bouillon cube; cook until bubbling. Slowly stir in milk; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add three fourth of olives, all of turkey; heat. Top with onion rings, rest of olives. Serve over noodles.

Makes 4 servings
Mmm.... No, really, this sounds highly suspicious to me. Black olives, celery, milk, and chow mein noodles? ... all things I loved in my childhood, but, together?

It does sound authentically 1950s, though. In a "what were they thinking" sort of way.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Other Way To Quick 'n' Easy: Can-Opener Minestrone

Leftovers are one way to quick 'n' easy cooking; today's recipe goes another route. Good Housekeeping's Quick 'n' Easy Cook Book (subtitle: time-saver dishes for today's busy woman) puts the secret to quick 'n' easy right in the title of this next dish:
Can-Opener Ministrone *
(Pictured on pages 34 and 35)

1 can condensed vegetable soup, undiluted
1 can condensed chicken-noodle soup, undiluted
1 can water (measure in soup can)
2 1-lb. cans kidney beans (drain 1 can)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup snipped parsley
Lots of grated Parmesan cheese

Combine vegetable soup, chicken-noodle soup, water, kidney beans, garlic and parsley. Heat until very hot. Ladle into soup bowls; pass bowlful of Parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 servings

* Make 4 or 5 times recipe to fill electric fryer as shown in photo
The electric fryer in question is that Crock-Pot looking beastie in the lower left of the photo.

I'm hoping there's lots and lots of grated cheese. And that no one has high blood pressure issues -- there's a lot of sodium going on here, especially as we're keeping the liquid from one can of beans.

Really, making your own minestrone isn't a hard thing. This would certainly be quick... and easy... but you could use similar short cuts and end up with something that tasted a little less...canned. Try using drained and rinsed beans, frozen mixed veg, boxed stock, and dried noodles. And, you know, fresh herbs. And a tin of tomatoes.

I'll admit it -- I'm a bit of a soup snob. I love a good bowl of homemade soup. I love cooking up a big pot. I love the chopping. I love the simmering. I love how the whole house smells like someone gave a damn.

I will give you this, though: as long as there's a lot of cheese to be passed around, even the can-opener cookery soup will fill you up. The cheese shows someone gives a damn.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Good Housekeeping's Quick 'n' Easy Cook Book; Cranberry-Beef Patties

At my local grocery store, at every check out, there are small booklets of recipes, for small change, ready for the impulse shopper who is bored waiting in line. These booklets have been around for a long time, folks. The saddle stitch bindings might lack the gravitas of perfect bound tomes, but they can be fabulous little collections. This week, we'll look at Good Housekeeping's Quick 'n' Easy Cook Book, from 1958. It's not currently available from any Amazon sellers, but you can probably find it on eBay or the like; booklets might not look impressive, but they're small, so they aren't usually the first thing to go when someone purges a bookshelf to regain space.
Cranberry-Beef Patties

1 1/2 cups chopped, cooked pot roast
1 1/2 cups diced, cooked potatoes
1 1/2 cups diced, cooked beets
1 onion, chopped
1/3 cup packaged dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teasp. Worcestershire
1 teasp. salt
1/8 teasp. pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablesp. butter or margarine
1/2 can whole-cranberry sauce

Mix together pot roast, potatoes, beets, onion, bread crumbs, milk, egg, Worcestershire, salt, pepper. Form into 8 patties. Dip lightly into flour. Sauté in hot butter in skillet until browned on both sides and heated through. Add cranberry sauce; heat until milted. To serve, spoon sauce on top of patties.

Makes 8 servings
This recipe has "leftovers" written all over it. And why not? Leftovers make dinners quick and easy. If you've cooked up a pot roast, with root veg, and you need a way to reformat it or you'll go crazy... this is a heck of a way to do it.

If you're not in the habit of having beets with your pot roast, either use canned beets, or substitute the carrots (or parsnips) you did cook with the roast.

I've never served cranberry sauce along side pot roast, but this recipe has me wondering whyever not; tangy berries would be nice along a nice bit of beef as easily as next to turkey. And flipping them into a pan sauce for the leftovers? Pretty snazzy. If you're an IKEA devotee, you could use the lingonberries you bought to go with your Swedish meatballs ... and add a splash of milk or cream at the last minute, too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sounds Like My Kind Of Party: A Celebrated Tipsy Charlotte

Mix booze with dessert and I'm a happy camper. No surprise, then, that this recipe from The Portland Woman's Exchange Cook Book is slated for a grey and dessert-needing Friday.
A Celebrated Tipsy Charlotte.

Take sufficient lady fingers to fill your glass dish; 1 lb. of almonds, blanched and split; fill a bowl about two-thirds full of Sherry wine, add one-third water, sweeten to taste; split the lady fingers lengthwise and dip them into the wine; arrange a layer in the bottom of your dish, then a layer of almonds, and so on, until your dish is nearly full. Make a custard of 5 eggs to a quart of milk, flavor with almond. When cold pour over your lady fingers; let stand 1 hour. If you can procure it whip 1 pint of triple cream to a stiff froth and put on top of dish, dotting it here and there with minute triangles of currant jelly.

Mrs. Martin Winch.
Mrs. Winch is a homegirl! She was born Nellie Amelia Wygant in Oregon City, Oregon. Aw! End of the Oregon Trail! And, golly, she was great-granddaughter of John McLaughlin! If that doesn't get me frothing at the mouth with imagined closeness and coolness, Martin was the guy who cleared the way for Reed College to come into being. These people? Solid Oregonian Stock.

Evidently, Solid Oregonian Stock folks assume that you know how to make a custard.

Chefly Husband's mom shares a story wherein a friend from India wanted to make an English dessert. She chose to make a trifle, and was confused by the recipe, but plowed ahead. Except she used what she thought of as lady fingers... okra.

Do not use okra to make this celebrated tipsy charlotte.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Leftover Mashed Potatoes? Potato Doughnuts

When I visit family in Portland, I make a point to go to Voodoo Doughnut for the best decadent doughnuts around. Before being converted to the fancy pants modern doughnuts, though, I was a Muno's girl. Their cake donuts, cooked in lard, are amazing. Old fashioned. Crispy. Soft. Delicious.

I have to think that this recipe, from The Portland Woman's Exchange Cook Book, would produce a more Muno's-esque doughnut than Voodoo-esque -- just right for dunking in a cup of coffee, or a glass of milk.
Potato Doughnuts.

One pint mashed potatoes. While hot add 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 cups of sugar. When cool add 3 eggs, unbeaten, one at a time, 1 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, 1 teacup sweet milk, 6 even teaspoons baking powder. Roll smoothly, cut and turn all the time. This recipe makes 6 dozen. The potatoes keep them moist.

Mrs. D. A. Shindler.
I can not imagine I'd ever have leftover mashed potatoes; to make this, I'd say you have to make the potatoes special. Or, if you have more self-control when it comes to hot buttery carb-laden side dishes, just cook extra taters at dinner time, and use the leftovers in the morning.

You know... on one of those mornings when you have a need for six dozen doughnuts.

There's no hint as to how to fry up your doughnuts, other than "turn all the time." Find another doughnut recipe, get out your deep fat fryer, and follow their suggestions. Don't overcrowd the fryer; do it in batches, folks.

Serve with coffee. Serve with milk. Serve with hot cocoa (yes, I'm still singing "Earthen Vessels" to myself, and thinking of doughnuts at the same time as that song has me firmly back in the basement of Ascension, having doughnuts and cocoa after church).

Tomatoes Need Not Apply: Three Catsups, No Tomatoes

You say "ketchup," I say "catsup." Okay, I used to. Again, regionality... We used both words in our family, but my dad was more likely to say "catsup." (Sadly, like saying "pop" instead of "soda," the homogenization of US culture has spread into my dad's lingo, and he's more... standard... now; he asks for a soda, he uses ketchup.) Other sites can tell you about the change of the words and the contents, but I'll go for a one - two - three punch: a variety of catsups, from The Portland Woman's Exchange Cook Book:
Cucumber Catsup (Uncooked).

Peel and chop 6 green cucumbers (table size), add 1 green pepper and 2 small onions, minced; drain this and add salt, pepper and vinegar to tasted and turn it into glass jars. Use for sandwiches or with cold meats.

Mrs. F. B. Waite
Take away the green pepper, and this pretty much sounds like what my dad would make anytime there were cucumbers to be had. Cucumbers and vinegar, uncooked, and enjoyed cold with sammiches, or even plain. Not quite sure what Mrs. Waite means by "table size," but I'm choosing to believe that she just means you shouldn't let them get ginormous on the vine. Harvest 'em young, folks!
Mushroom Catsup.

Wipe freshly gathered mushrooms, put in layers in earthen vessels, sprinkling salt between each layer. Cover with damp cloth and stand in a warm place 36 hours; then wash and strain. To each quart of liquid add 1 ounce pepper corns, boil 30 minutes, then add 1 ounce each whole cloves and allspice, 1/2 ounce ginger root, 1 blade mace; simmer 20 minutes. When cold, strain and bottle.

L. C. C. B.
The I-grew-up-Catholic-in-the-70s part of me is now singing "Earthen Vessels," and I fear it'll be with me for a few days, at least. ("We hold a treasure, not made of gold. In earthen vessels, wealth untold.")

Okay, back to the recipe! This sounds more like a ketchup... at least it sounds like it'd be liquid, thick and savory, instead of chunky, fresh, and tangy. The first catsups were usually mushroom or walnut based, so this is more "authentic" than the Heinz we know and love. No clue about the contributor, though she also gave a recipe for mustard pickles which looks yummy (cauliflower, onions, green tomatoes, cukes, and both red and green peppers). She also contributed the next old-school catsup:
Walnut Castup.

Use soft green walnuts; grind or pound in earthen mortar, then turn into stone jar, sprinkle with salt, and cover with vinegar; stand 1 week, stirring well each day. Strain through a coarse cloth. To each gallon of liquid add 1 ounce each of whole cloves, peppercorns, ginger, mace and celery seed, 1/2 a crushed nutmeg, 1 clove of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Boil slowly.

L. C. C. B.
I can't imagine what this tastes like. I've never had unripe walnuts, and I'm curious as to what they taste like. There's an Italian liquor made from unripe walnuts, there's all sorts of things one can do with them... I need to find someone with a green walnut tree!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Double Post Tomorrow

All day meetings, followed by auditions, followed by late happy hour, and it all means:

Two posts tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

M.S.; Huckleberry Cake

My father is a forester in Oregon. Love of the woods is pretty much required for our family. We used to go on long hikes with him, into watersheds and woodlands most people couldn't get into. On those hikes, we would pick berries. We'd eat them out of hand, or, if there were enough to merit leftovers, bake them into muffins, or pancakes.

Most of the time, the berries were huckleberries. Oh, huckleberries! So wonderful. I haven't had any since hitting the East Coast. This recipe from The Portland Woman's Exchange Cook Book sends me back.
Huckleberry Cake

3 eggs.
1/2 cup sugar.
3 tablespoons melted butter.
1 cup milk.
1 1/2 pints flour.
1 teaspoon baking powder.
1 pint huckleberries.
Bake in shallow pans in a quick oven, from 10 to 15 minutes.

We're supposed to assume the author(ess) by the M. S. We're also supposed to assume the oven temperature, and the method of mixing.


Flipping back a few pages, I find some guidance for temperature:
The oven for baking bread should be hot enough to brown a teaspoon of flour in five minutes. For biscuits it should brown in 1 minute.
Still no help on method. Let's assume we do it this way: Beat eggs. Mix in sugar. Add melted butter, stir until combined. Add milk, stir until combined. Sift the baking powder in with the flour. Add flour/powder mixture to the the wet ingredients, stirring until combined. Add huckleberries and stir gently until evenly dispersed.

That should do it.

I'd try it out for y'all, but where is a DC gal to get huckleberries? (Okay, okay; blueberries could substitute...)

Monday, September 8, 2008

It's Not Fried Cucumbers: Tomatoes Portland

End of summer means tomatoes. For me, it always sends me back to Grandpa's garden, and stealing tomatoes, warm from the sun, right off the vine. The Portland Woman's Exchange Cook Book has a suitably Oregonian way to enjoy the season's tomatoes:
Tomatoes Portland

Select some small tomatoes about the size of walnuts and cut a slice from each in the region of the stalk. Squeeze out all their water and seeds, and marinate them for 10 minutes. Prepare a mince of crab legs with oil, salt, paprika and tarragon vinegar, and add thereto per 2 ounces of the crab 1/2 a tablespoon of chopped parsley, chervil and tarragon and a small hard-boiled egg, also chopped. Thicken the whole with 1 tablespoon of thick mayonnaise, put it into a bag fitted with smallest tube, using enough of mayonnaise to form a kind of dome upon each tomato.

By courtesy Chef of Portland Hotel.
I have never used the word "thereto" in writing a recipe, myself. I'm completely charmed by describing tomatoes as "the size of walnuts" -- I think we're safe substituting cherry tomatoes, aren't you?

For the crab, use Dungeness if you can get it. It's an Oregonian recipe, after all -- Dungeness is the only way to go. I know that, having spent more than half my life a stone's throw from the Chesapeake means I should be a blue crab devotée, but... I'm just not. There's nothing like the sweet wonderfulness of Dungeness. It is the crab.

The last recipe on the page is for fried cucumbers. As in: cut one in half, dredge it in eggs, roll it in cracker crumbs, and fry. ...I swear, that's not really Oregon food. Honest.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Take Two Nice Mallards; Duck Salmi

Today's recipe is yet another one chosen on the basis of name. I'd never heard of "salmi" before, nor had Chefly Husband. Turns out, salmis are heavily spiced wine-based stews with minced game. Mushrooms and/or truffles are common.

Clearly, this is a Take One Cookbook... kind of recipe.

Oh, and if anyone tries to tell you that the California wine business is a relatively new business, laugh in their faces. Then, show them this recipe from The Portland Woman's Exchange Cook Book.
Duck Salmi

Take two nice mallards, draw and wash them, and wipe inside and out with a dry cloth. Cut 1/4 pound of bacon into dice, and fry till brown in an iron kettle. Then add 1/4 pound of butter, and fry the ducks till will browned in this. Add 2 or 3 chopped onions, and stir until they are browned. Add salt, pepper, 6 cloves, 2 or 3 bay leaves, a little celery seed, and enough water to cover the ducks. Let all simmer very slowly for 1 hour. Then add 1 pint white wine (California Riesling is excellent), skim off the fat, and let all cook slowly an hour. Add 1 or 2 cans of mushrooms, sliced, and cook slowly for 20 minutes. Serve the ducks on a platter, surrounded by wedges of toast, with the mushrooms and gravy poured over the toast.

Mrs. Lavinia T. Whalley.

I don't know why Lavinia T. Whalley saw fit to serve this on toast. Duck on a Shingle doesn't sound anywhere near as elegant as a nice Pasta with Duck Ragout. Maybe it was her earthy pioneer self coming to the front.

For, lo, Mrs. Lavinia T. Whalley was a pioneer. She crossed over the Oregon Trail (well, only as far as to the crossroads to go to California... and then she took the wrong turn) at the ripe old age of five, with her parents. At 20, she married John William Whalley, who'd come West to hunt gold, and eventually worked his way up to Oregon, read law with several folks, and eventually became a Big Name in Law in Oregon. Lavinia (why don't people name their daughters Lavinia anymore?) outlived her husband, which we could pretty much tell by the way she's referenced in this cookbook. So, the widow Whalley, and her duck-laden sauce on toast.

The "T." stands for Talitha. I'm pretty sure I can guess why people don't name their daughters Talitha much any more.

We didn't eat duck much, if at all, growing up. My mom was convinced that duck was fatty, greasy and gross until after Chefly Husband became a cook. I don't remember if it was a duck breast dish he made for her, or duck confit, but she loved it, and is firmly converted to the church of duck yumminess.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Portland Woman's Exchange Cook Book; Eggs a la Rector

I grew up just outside of Portland, Oregon, so it shouldn't be a big surprise that a lot of my cookbooks focus on the Pacific Northwest. This week, we'll be looking at The Portland Woman's Exchange Cook Book from 1913; it was reprinted in 1973 with an introduction and ample notation from another native Oregonian, James Beard. Let's go to the master's introduction:
The Woman's Exchange, as you probably remember, was a national movement...that provided otherwise unemployed people with a marketplace for their handicrafts and their talents. ...The Portland Woman's Exchange, which functioned up until the Second World War, maintained one or two homes. ...

The most dedicated members of the Exchange produced this book. It contains many mouthwatering recipes, but beyond that it is a record of living for a particular period of Portland's history.

Boy, is it ever! The reprint has retained all the 1913 advertisements, like this one for the Hotel Multnomah which offers guaranteed fire-proof accommodations for up to $5 a night.

In Beard's introduction, he references some of his favorite dishes in the book, and despairs of some others (there's a cherry salad that he mocks; I think it sounds tasty, if a bit over-thought -- basically, you stone a bunch of cherries, and then stuff them with whole, shelled filberts). While feeling the Beardian love, might as well use one of the recipes he admired:
Eggs a la Rector*

Cut an onion very fine and fry in butter. Add a cup of good cream and boil 5 minutes. Cut 4 hard-boiled eggs in 1/2-inch slices, season with salt and pepper; put them into cream and onion, and heat thoroughly. Serve quickly.

Mrs. Wm. H. Crane

* Classically known as Eggs a la Tripe or Oeufs a la Tripe. A very good dish. (J.B.)

Personally, it sounds tastier a la Rector than a la Tripe. Don't think this is a dish where you can substitute lower-fat dairy goods; anything other than full-fat cream won't stand up to the boiling.

Beard points out that Mrs. Wm. H. Crane was married to the William H. Crane, star of stage and, to a lesser degree, screen. Don't know how the Cranes got to Oregon, but they left their mark with this recipe, if nothing else.

It's actually a lot of fun as a transplanted Portland-ish girl to flip through and read all the contributors' names; they are the same names as concert halls and roads and schools and auditoriums all over the state.

Side note: the links to the book titles this week won't go to Amazon searches, as in the past, but to Google Books... the entire 1913 version of the book is available electronically free of charge...have fun with it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Taste the Love: Fried Eggplant

When I was a kid, I didn't like sour cream, and I'd never tried eggplant. The very name made my nose wrinkle. Eggplant sounded gross.

I'm not alone for dismissing eggplant just on the basis of the name, according to The Kitchen Survival Guide.
Fried Eggplant

The only trouble with eggplant is its unfortunate name. If it were called purple melon or Fatima's Passion, then stores wouldn't be able to keep the bins stocked.

Eggplant has a mild, appealing taste. It can have a variety of appealing textures and shapes depending on how it is cooked, and it is economical. Hell, it's cheap. It lends itself to different cuisines, from Italian to Middle Eastern. Give it a try. As Mom would say, "Would I feed you something bad?"

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Can be made ahead? No.
Can be frozen? No.
Can be doubled? Yes. But don't crowd the slices in the frying pan. It's better to make in several batches.
Good for leftovers? A bit on the soggy side, but yes. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Eat cold, or add to a salad or the top of a baked potato or an omelet. Or reheat, wrapped in foil, in a oven or toaster oven, or in plastic in the microwave.

2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut crosswise (you want rounds) into 3/4-inch slices
Approximately 2/3 cup vegetable oil

Break the eggs into a shallow bowl, add the salt and pepper and beat briefly with a fork. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow pan or on a piece of waxed paper. Dip both sides of each eggplant slice in the egg mixture, then coat with the bread crumbs. Continue until all the slices have been coated.

Heat about 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet and when it's hot, add a few slices of eggplant. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side over moderate heat until brown. Drain the slices on paper towels, then stack on a cookie sheet in a 250°F. oven to keep them warm. Repeat with the remaining slices, adding more oil as necessary, until all the eggplant is cooked.

The first time I ever tried eggplant, I realized how much tasty time I'd lost. I was on Long Island, and a friend got me a slice of pizza topped with very thin, very lovely fried eggplant. I was hooked.

Is eggplant more widely consumed in countries where it's called something less...eggy? Do Brits enjoy it more because it's "aubergine"?

I love that Lora Brody says "hell" in this recipe. Her recipe writing style makes The Kitchen Survival Guide more than just an okay purchase.

I must say, though, it took every bit of my self control to not change "a oven" to "an oven" when typing this out.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: Noodles with Sour Cream and Cottage Cheese

People are often surprised when I say what my favorite food is. I guess they expect me to say seared foie gras, or lamb in a coffee, chocolate, and pinot noir sauce, or some such rich and beautiful thing. It's true, I do love those things, but if I had to choose one favorite food it would be...


Noodles. Noodles of all kinds. I adore noodles! They are perfection. So, when The Kitchen Survival Guide pairs noodles with two other loves of mine, I have to stand up and shout "huzzah!"
Noodles with Sour Cream and Cottage Cheese

This is a traditional Sunday night supper in our house. You can throw it together in 5 minutes (not counting the time it takes to cook the noodles). Substitute plain yogurt for the sour cream and use low-fat cottage cheese, if you wish.

Preparation time: 15 minutes, including the time to cook the noodles
Cooking time: approximately 10 minutes following the directions on the noodle package
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Can be made ahead? No.
Can be frozen? No.
Can be doubled and tripled? Yes.
Good for leftovers? Okay.

1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces wide egg noodles
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream or plain yogurt
1 cup (8 ounces) creamy style or low-fat cottage cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot with 2 quarts of water and the salt to a boil. Add the noodles, and stir for a moment to separate them. Cook for the minimum time recommended on the package.

While the noodles are cooking, empty the sour cream and cottage cheese into a serving bowl and mix together. When the noodles are cooked drain them, then mix them gently with the sour cream/cottage cheese mixture. Add salt and pepper as desired.

It's official: I want to live at Lora Brody's house. At least on Sundays around dinner time.

Egg noodles and sour cream always get me to thinking of beef stroganoff, but this gem of a recipe is much more likely to be pantry cooking for me than stroganoff. I just don't keep fresh mushrooms in the house all the time, nor, frankly, beef. I shop for those for specific recipes. But, creamy yummy dairy goods? Always in the fridge! Egg noodles? Always in the pantry!

There's not a thing about this recipe that doesn't make me think "warm," "cozy," "homey," or "soothing." I can't imagine it being good for leftovers...

...mostly because I can't imagine leaving any to be left over.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

After The Dining Hall: Banana Bread

Back in college, I lived in the dorms. I lived in the dorms, I cooked in the dorms, I baked in the dorms. My first year, that mean trekking to one of the updated dorms -- Anderson Hall was a notorious pit -- to find an oven. It was worth it, though, for the pies, the cookies, the 1,000 calorie slightly alcoholic cream puffs... And, with this recipe from The Kitchen Survival Guide, the quick breads.
Banana Bread

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Yield: 1 loaf
Can be made ahead? Yes. The day before. Cool thoroughly and then wrap in foil. Store at room temperature or refrigerate.
Can be frozen? Yes. Cool completely, slice, then wrap in foil and store in a plastic bag. Defrost at room temperature, still wrapped. Toast before serving.
Can be doubled? Yes. Use 2 bread pans.
Good for leftovers? Yes. Will keep well wrapped in foil and in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 5 days.

3 very ripe bananas
2 eggs
2 cups flour, measured after sifting
3/4 sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 350°F. with the rack in the center position. Butter and flour a 6-cup loaf pan, knocking out the excess flour.

Use a fork to mash the bananas in a large bowl. Add the eggs and mix well. Sift the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda over the bananas. Stir well and mix in the nuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn the cake out ont a wire rack to cool.

Now, kids, it's wrong to steal from the dining hall. Even if your breakfast is costing you $12, and you couldn't finish all that healthful stuff you put on your tray. It's wrong. It's just wrong. And it's certainly not how I ever got bananas to make banana bread in college.

:shifty eyes:

I did find out that the tiny tiny freezer in the tiny tiny dorm fridge was just the right size to stash overripe bananas while waiting to have enough to make a loaf of banana bread. And eventually I figured out that I could hide a toaster oven behind some books, and never have to leave the room for some study break banana bread goodness...

That would be wrong, too. Always follow your dorm rules. Never have forbidden appliances. Or volatile liquids used for flavor in cooking...

:shifty eyes:

I like my banana bread sliced thick, and slathered in butter. I also like it as the base for chicken or ham salad sandwiches, or with sliced apples and brie. And I think I've made my position on pecans quite clear; I'd go for walnuts here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The One That Matters; Hard-Boiled Eggs

For me, there's usually one recipe in any beloved cookbook that is the recipe, the one that matters. Believe it or not, here's mine for The Kitchen Survival Guide:
Hard-Boiled Eggs

Cooking time: 20 minutes
Can be made ahead? Yes. Shell the eggs while they are still hot and store in a covered glass or plastic container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Can be frozen? No.
Can be doubled and tripled? Yes. Make as many as you'd like. Just make sure you use a big enough pot to cook them.
Good for leftovers? Yes. Refrigerate for up to 4 day until ready to use.

It's best to use a Teflon-coated pan for boiling eggs, since a metal pan will become discolored unless you add a pinch of cream of tartar to the water.

Fill a saucepan two thirds full with cold water. Add as many eggs as you wish to cook (they should not be crowded) and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Cover the pan, turn off the heat, and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes.

Drain off the hot water and immediately run the eggs under cold water. Peel at once (it gets harder if you wait).

I'm serious. Every. single. time. I boil eggs, I reach for The Kitchen Survival Guide and turn to page 153. Chefly Husband has crossed out "15" both times it appears in this recipe and written in "12 per Mom." Another C.H. notation: "3 for Soft-Boiled."

So, cook your eggs this way, for 12 minutes, and then go one step further and ignore the peeling advice. Take your hard-cooked eggs, and dye 'em. For any holiday. For any non-holiday.

Yes, I said "hard-cooked." The recipe above may call itself Hard-Boiled, but the American Egg Board calls 'em by their proper name. If you want truly hard-boiled eggs, you'll boil them for their whole cooking time, and be stuck in the same trap I was stuck in before The Kitchen Survival Guide came into my life. For me, hard-boiled = usually over cooked and with the weird grey ring around the yolk; hard-cooked = perfection, with the most beautiful yolks ever.

Favorite things to do with perfectly hard-cooked eggs:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Saving Ourselves From The Deli Counter; Curried Chicken Salad

There was a long, long stretch of time when Chefly Husband and I would feed ourselves from the deli counter at Whole Foods. Our standing get list: lemon cappellini, and curried chicken salad. Leave it to The Kitchen Survival Guide to help us save ourselves from the deli counter.
Curried Chicken (or Turkey) Salad)

This wonderful cold dish is the mainstay of many gourmet take-out shops. You can pay sixteen dollars a pound for theirs, or you can make your own and save a bundle. The main ingredient is leftover turkey or chicken. If you're craving this salad and ate all the leftover turkey or chicken, then go to the deli and buy some turkey breast. Smoked turkey breast would also be wonderful. Ask the clerk to slice it on the thick (1/2 inch) side.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Can be made ahead? Yes. Up to 1 day before.
Can be frozen? No.
Can be doubled and tripled? Yes.
Good for leftovers? Yes. Store in a covered plastic container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

2/3 cup plain yogurt (regular, low-fat, or nonfat), or mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups (approximately 8 ounces) cubed chicken or turkey breast
2 Granny Smith apples, cubed
1 small can pineapple chunks, drained
1/2 cup raisins
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pecans, or slivered almonds

Mix the yogurt or mayonnaise together with the curry powder in a large mixing bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients and toss gently to cover with the dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

So simple, really. A little bit of sweet. A little bit of crunch. A little bit of spice. And yet, together, it's amazing. I strongly recommend letting it meld in the fridge for a good chunk of time before serving, because it really improves the whole experience.

It's great in a sandwich, spread on crackers, topping a green salad, or even eaten right out of the mixing bowl. Spoon optional.